Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegetable Soup Quinoa

We were out of town at a wedding this weekend and I didn't get a lot of cooking in. I did make some muffins to bring along for snacks on the road, but they have way too much white flour and sugar for me so I'll be posting a makeover of that recipe soon. 

We made it home just in time to pick up a few things at the market before it closed and then I made a trip to Whole Foods on P Street. Do you like waiting in a checkout line for 30 minutes while you question the temperature of your rapidly warming dairy products? This is the place for you! What else did I buy besides milk? Two pounds of quinoa because the bulk food container was stuck on open. But, I don't think it's possible to ever have too much quinoa!

Vegetable Soup Quinoa

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
6 carrots, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
8 oz sliced white mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
15 oz can of cannelloni beans (or any white beans), rinsed well and drained
15 oz can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
32 oz vegetable broth
5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Dice onion and carrots and add to the pot, cooking until onions are translucent and carrots are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile dice the garlic and chop the squash and zucchini into bite sized half-moons. Add to onions and carrots and cook for a few more minutes. 
  4. Add mushrooms and dried herbs to the vegetable mixture, along with salt and pepper, to taste. If you are going to be using salted vegetable broth it's probably a good idea to hold off on any salt at this stage.  
  5. Add beans, tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring up to a boil.
  6. Add quinoa to the pot and reduce to a simmer. Cover lightly and let cook for about 15 minutes until quinoa sprouts. When quinoa sprouts, you will notice a white thread that has curled around the seed.
  7. Stir in some freshly chopped basil and serve.

This dish is essentially a vegetable soup until you add the quinoa, which absorbs most of the liquid. Another option would be to cook the quinoa separately and then when serving, add a scoop of quinoa to each bowl. I think I'll go this route next time. Also keep in mind that you can sub in any vegetables you have on hand. Cauliflower would be a great option and you could stir in some greens at the end. I probably use different vegetables each time I make this soup, but zucchini is my favorite ingredient here so I pretty much keep that consistent!

If you haven't cooked with quinoa before, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain-like seed and is a complete protein source, which is very rare quality for a plant and a great addition to vegetarian meals. It's also a really good source of fiber and iron. It only takes about 15 minutes to cook which makes it a super-easy week night dinner. I usually buy quinoa from the bulk section of Whole Foods and because it's a complete protein source, I usually use it for an inexpensive meat-free dinner.

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